An Expert Guide to the Douglas SKY G Fly Rod

Published on 07/13/2022 · 10 min readIn the market for a new fly rod? Fly Fishing Expert Josh H. tells the truth about one of his favorite sticks—the Douglas SKY G.
Josh H., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Josh H.

All photos courtesy of Josh H.

For a truly dedicated fly fisherman, there are a few things that are essential to their existence. The first is a love and understanding of this sport. Another is the vast, unadulterated outdoor experience that encompasses fly fishing and the means and desire to engage in it. Lastly, they need the right equipment to facilitate success.

When speaking of the equipment needed, there are entire stores dedicated to the craft, several levels and price points of equipment, and an ever-growing list of species and applications that one could or should consider. From the entry-level novice that has been dreaming of the opportunities in and on the water to the knowledgeable, seasoned expert that can be found in waders more often than in anything else, each has expectations that must be fulfilled—not only for a level of enjoyment but to also gain a measurable amount of success.

For instance, when one considers a fly rod, the target species and the conditions surrounding that species should be key points of consideration. Furthermore, most experienced fly fishermen would say that the right fly rod is the single most important piece of equipment needed to be successful. So, let me present the Douglas Sky G.

What to Look For in a Trout Rod

There is no question that trout fishing with a one-handed fly rod, in medium water while wading, and presenting both dry and wet flies is the most popular fly fishing scenario. This is where most people enter the sport and where most people stay. As such, the most frequently asked question I get when presented with this scenario is, “Which rod should I buy?” Well, that depends.

For the sake of argument, I will posit that a 8’6”- 9’, moderately fast action 4wt - 6wt would meet most criteria without specification or customization from an individual, but rather to accommodate a general group as a whole.

Additionally, to narrow down the options, the fly rod that you select probably revolves around a budget coupled with your individual experience level. With this in mind, any honest fly fisherman will tell you, they have a “one-and-done” fly rod, which they consider their “go-to” stick, and in 8.5 out of 10 debates, that winning fly rod is a 9' 5wt fly rod.

Purchasing a Rod

Let me take you on a journey. My research began in 2019 with the realization that I needed a more-multipurpose fly rod. At this point, I had a plethora of fly rods, from all the likely manufacturers, in different lengths and line weights, and they ranged from one hundred dollar variants to more expensive offerings; quite frankly it had gotten to be too much.

I needed to be able to leave my truck and walk to a body of water, once there, present flies to an unidentified quarry, and most importantly do it all with one rod in my hand. What I truly needed was the coveted all-around option that hit all the sweet spots. I searched, tested, borrowed, and fished many rods for about six months, although I didn't commit to a purchase.

What had me truly excited was an announcement that a new rod would be unveiled from Douglas, a company I had been following after the release of the DXF. Admittedly, the tech in fly rods was changing so fast, it was hard to keep up, but I had fished a DXF and was impressed to say the least, so the curiosity revolving around a drastically improved, brand-new fly rod had to be satisfied.

I patiently awaited the release, read the Pro blogs, spoke with guide buddies, and read print articles, all the while carefully memorizing the complimentary reviews from some of the most established fly enthusiasts. Statements swirled around with language like, “a tech masterpiece”, “a top-notch example” of an all-arounder, and “perfect for new and experienced anglers alike”, along with comments on how easy to cast it was, how light it was, and it’s moderate price. After a year of anticipation, the time finally came when the Douglas Sky G hit the shelves in early 2020.

The Sky G Fly Rod

I convinced myself that I needed to get my hands on one as soon as possible. I had to know if everything I was reading and had been hearing was truly accurate and not a paid-for, carefully orchestrated advertisement.

So upon receiving a call from a faithful informant, I headed down to my local fly shop which was a Douglas dealer (and a second home) requesting to test one out. Reluctantly, the staff accommodated my persistence and what I found was mind-blowing, so much so that I became an owner the same day.

With the aluminum tube placed carefully into my hands, unwrapping the rod was an experience. The embroidered logo on the padded, vented, rod sock was visually stunning, while the sock itself was practical. The rod, semi-matte, platinum in color with the model, length, line weight embossed near the cork had an attractive, well-put-together look that even some of the purists would consider. The finish was pleasing, although not a one-off; you could tell that appreciative hands inspected it before leaving the production line, as there were no visual flaws or concerns about design or construction.

More impressive yet was the componentry—incredible cork, (Flor Grade) but let’s just call it AAAA, REC Titanium Cerecoil zirconia insert stripping guide, REC Titanium snake guides, an aluminum reel seat machined to perfection, double uplocking rings, and a burled Blackwood insert that is beautiful. It is truly an incredibly designed piece of kit.

The setup was effortless with alignment dots and line weight to prevent mistakes, precision ferrule fit, and to my surprise a hook keeper, okay now we are talking! (Yes, Orvis, that is directed at you).

My initial thought upon holding the assembled rod was how light it was—the lightest rod I had held up to that point in this length and line weight, and lighter than a lot of rods shorter and in lighter weights. Just short of a few ounces was incredible to me; swing weight really makes a difference when you spend endless hours slinging flies. Graphene, or G-Tec as Douglas refers to it, was going to make a name for itself and rapidly so from my introductory assessment. Douglas touted that their graphene rod was stronger, lighter, and more responsive than the other rods on the market, and I was itching to put those claims to the test.

I performed the customary tests, although not a rod builder and without any scientific gadgets present, I was impressed. The recovery speed and the tip section flex had me excited, tippet protection looked promising considering the line weight, pulling the tip and bumping the butt proved very clean dampening. The rod gives you all the right feels. The overall flex extends into the mid-section, and I found the action to be medium-fast.

The reel at testing, a Ross EVO R 5/6 in platinum outfitted with SA AMP/INF AST+ balanced the rod well. I did find that the half line heavy head of the SA played a part as I devoted more concentration to my casting stroke carrying line during my initial flight, I will elaborate more on this at range.

Testing It

I anxiously set up rings at 25, 45, and 65ft and proceed to cast. My first casts found it almost too easy to fling a practice fly into the 25ft ring—it was as if the rod read my mind, landing my fly within the ring 15 out of 15 attempts. “This bodes well for those close-in one shots that you can’t miss,” I thought.

As I aired out to 45 I was extremely impressed as the rod tracked impeccably and the near-perfect amount of flex really made me a believer, the accuracy was unaffected, again landing 15 of 15 within the ring and the wind said hello on several casts as well. I would say 40-50ft is probably my most encountered distance while on fish. For the rod to perform flawlessly and effortlessly where I present most often was incredibly impressive.

As I extended the range to 65ft, I could tell that the line choice was playing a part, although the power was there to accurately and effectively place my fly. You could tell there was just a little something missing, but all together surprisingly strong for the amount of flex of the rod. I delivered 12 of 15 into the 65ft ring, all arriving delicately.

That was enough for me. I ponied up the cash and planned my first outing in my head as I walked back to the truck, rod tube in hand.

I paid MSRP for my 9' 5wt SKY G, which at the time was $845. The price tag may make you shake your head but trust me when I say, I've spent as much if not more on the accumulation of rods that now sit in my garage. I admit this is not inexpensive, although knowing what I know now, I wish I had invested more effort, brainpower, and cash into the “hype” of engineering milestones regarding rod-tech earlier in my fly fishing career; I would have a far greater balance in the ole mattress bank vault.

Updated Opinions

Fast forward to now with more than a year of use, the Sky G is my favorite rod—not only my favorite but my go-to rod for 90% of my fly-fishing adventures. Whether it be tiny dries, stout nymphing rigs, or medium, lightly weighted streamers this rod scoffs at a challenge.

Paired with my Sage Trout and SA lines, casting and accuracy are still effortless, truly enhancing every outing. When needed, with the right line and controlled and rhythmic casting strokes, you will find yourself at the backing.

Not one flaw in construction has plagued the rod or my experiences with it. I have netted countless fish, in countless waters and I still appreciate unsheathing the rod time and time again to tackle a variety of different situations. It turns heads not only in the water but on the bank as well.

The fit and finish have held up tremendously; its durability is unquestionable. The cork remains comfortable with little wear considering the use it has seen, the guides (both cerecoil stripping and titanium) remain in place and unscathed, the double uplocking rings and ferrule connections remain tight and secure with hundreds of thousands casts counted, and the burled Blackwood remains as beautiful as the day I brought it home.

It still amazes me that a fly rod can have such an impact on a person. I still own far too many fly rods, as most of us that live this sport will—it's inevitable. It seems as if I was searching for something that I could never really find or identify throughout the years and the variety of rods I sampled. It is true, the fact remains that some of the fly rods I own hold characteristics that are undeniably better in certain applications and scenarios than others. One thing will always remain constant, you will never find me at the river without my Douglas Sky G.

So, let’s revisit that question I get asked the most, “Which rod should I buy?” Whether you are a beginner just starting out, or an experienced fly angler looking for an advanced, balanced, performance-driven upgrade from your current multipurpose rod, Douglas thought about you when they designed the Sky G, and it shows. The Sky G is without question one of the best casting rods I own, and when I load up my quiver, the Sky G is the first rod in the carrier. Don’t buy multitudes of rods searching for multipurpose bliss, invest in a Douglas Sky G at 9ft 5wt. Take it from me and all of the rods sitting in my garage.

If you’d like to get the Sky G for yourself or chat with someone to see if it’s the right choice for you, reach out to a Fly Fishing Expert here on Curated. We’d be happy to help you find your perfect rod. Good luck and tight lines!

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